Intended to make sports car motoring available to a wider market, the Donald Healey-designed Sprite entered production in March 1958. The car's unitary construction bodyshell featured a distinctive forward-hinging bonnet/wings topped by two 'Frog Eye' headlamps, thus ensuring instant recognition and the now familiar nickname. Despite a Spartan equipment level - even the front bumper was listed as an extra! - the 'Frog Eye' sold well, which was not really surprising as there was nothing competing with it either on price or performance.
Light, small and nimble, the Sprite soon found its way into competition, and the works entry of John Sprinzel immediately took a class win on the 1958 Alpine Rally. Healey and Sprinzel then set about improving the Sprite fitting disc brakes and revised front bodywork to produce the Sebring Sprite. Although never a product of BMC, it is a model recognised in its own right by the FIA. Meanwhile back in Abingdon, the BMC Competitions Department set about developing a supercharged version to capture land speed records at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Flushed with success, a supercharger was subsequently offered as a tuning option and hence the supercharged Bonneville was homologated in 1962.
This charming classic rally car has been loved, developed and campaigned by its current owner for 27 years, amassing an impressive competition record. It has competed in approximately 20 major rallies including the Monte Carlo Historique (twice), Classic Marathon (twice), The Rally of the Tests (twice), and Liège-Rome-Liège, securing various class wins and even a concours trophy. This working competition car has all the right bits and comes with an extensive history file. Specification highlights include the following:
948cc A-Series engine bored to 960cc
Big-valve cylinder head
Shorrock C75 supercharger
Correct smooth-case gearbox with needle roller bearings
Straight-cut close-ratio gear cluster
Up-rated half-shafts and bearings
Lockheed front discs brakes and up-rated rear drums
Works type 9-gallon fuel tank with guard
Period Sebring seats
Works-type glassfibre hardtop
Williams & Pritchard Sebring front end
Available only because owner is a little less 'spritely' than he was, the car comes with an owner's handbook, BMIHT Certificate, FIA/MSA Historic Vehicle Identity Form, MSA Historic Technical Passport, FIA/MSA Historic Regularity Rally Car Pass, RAC/MSA homologation papers, Shorrock supercharger fitting instructions, and an engine build sheet.